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Developer Stress Crippling Game Innovation?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the revenge-of-burnout dept.

355

hapwned writes "Jason Della Rocca, the executive director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), looks at the big picture of the grim, dead-end careers of game developers. From the article: 'More fundamental is the notion that immature practices and extreme working conditions are bankrupting the industry's passion - the love for creating games that drives developers to be developers. When the average career length of the game development workforce is just over five years and over 50% of developers admit they don't plan to hang around for more than 10, we have a problem. How can an industry truly grow, and an art form evolve, if everyone is gone by the time they hit 30?'"

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first (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115000)

Yeah, that makes me depressed. oh yeah, first post. =)

Re:first (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115094)

Aww, the poor, poor sods.

Must be really hard, sitting in an office all day and playing games.

FUCK YOU, YOU WHINY CUNTS!

P.T. Barnum has the answer.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115009)

A sucker is born every minute.

Uh... yeah.... (0, Flamebait)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115012)

Most of them have long since lost that creative spark by the time they're thirty anyway. One could reasonably argue that from the perspective of the business, they are merely trying to get as much useful work out of them during the handful of years in which they will actually be productive.

Now, granted, this only refers to designers and sort of the front end folks. You don't lose your spark as a programmer at age 30 or anything; you probably are just beginning to start using good engineering practices by age 30. But for the designers and some of the principal developers of the UI and stuff, I'm not entirely sure how you could expect things to work if they didn't work the way they do now. Games are quite possibly the only field in which this sort of employee overworking makes any sense, though.

Re:Uh... yeah.... (3, Informative)

mossico (965482) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115044)

If you think most people lose their creative spark by 30, look at the average of art directors and creatives in advertising firms. It's not that different from engineering, it takes time to get good at it.

Re:Uh... yeah.... (1)

DarkGreenNight (647707) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115192)

Completely true. I've hit 30 and I'm as creative (if not more) as I was when younger (*). Not only that, but I have the experience that helps me to notice the difficulties that can be encountered and generaly bad ideas. Only that I'm not working in the game industry.

(*) Well, I'm mostly as creative as I was, except that I'm burnt out with my job and I try not spent a single second thinking about it in creative ways. I just try to solve what I have before me and keep going. So I'd say that I agree with the FA.

Re:Uh... yeah.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115267)

If you think most people lose their creative spark by 30, look at the average of art directors and creatives in advertising firms.

That just confirms the grandparent's point.

Re:Uh... yeah.... (4, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115144)

Creative spark plays a relatively minor role in AAA game development. Most of the 'overworked' crowd is doing 2 things: generating code and generating art. But even the artists typically need more skill than creativity, and in my experience the older artists tend to produce both more and better stuff (thanks to experience, particularly with the tools). For example, if the artist is going to generate an elf character ... that might typically involve one day of inspiration, and two weeks of pixel pushing. Even if he's twice as slow during that 1 day of inspiration, he'll more than make up for that extra day thanks to his familiarity with tools. On the code development side, I think we all understand how experience renders advantage.

Re:Uh... yeah.... (-1, Offtopic)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115314)

I fo one am upset about the term crippling... Cripple is not the prefered nomenclature....
The headline should read: Developer stress Physically Challenging game innovation...
You don't want to look over your shoulder and see a pissed off "Handi-capable" activist bearing down on you in a Rascal Power Chair...
www.rascalscooters.com

Re:Uh... yeah.... (5, Interesting)

happyemoticon (543015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115171)

Most of them have long since lost that creative spark by the time they're thirty anyway. One could reasonably argue that from the perspective of the business, they are merely trying to get as much useful work out of them during the handful of years in which they will actually be productive.

Balderdash.

Arguments such as these have been made hundreds of times over about every creative profession, and there are enough counterexamples to prove it's utter bunk. Take Cezanne [wikipedia.org] . He did most of his important, really revolutionary work in the last few years of his life. He was only actually discovered by the around the turn of the century, when he was finally honored with an exhibition. Monet himself came up to him and esposed his genius, saying he was, in fact, the greatest genius of them all. He said (T. J. Clark's paraphrase) "Maybe... but back to work!" Can I offer you, perhaps, John Milton, or Robert Frost, or, hell, Neal Stephenson (he's 46, you know)?

Young people generally have the advantage that they're poor, desparate to make their mark on the world, too inexperienced to know what they're doing is stupid. Their brains also have a higher degree of plasticity, but this countered on the other end of the scale by the experience and wisdom that comes with age. What happens to older artists is that they get rich when they're 30 and are too busy with the trappings of fame and fortune to really produce anything good after that. After all, I don't think the decline in the Harry Potter books is because Rowling (not a spring chicken, by the way, she's 40) is now incapable of true innovation, but because she's writing big sloppy books as fast as she can. She knows they'll sell and her dedication to the craft of writing has become lax.

Re:Uh... yeah.... (2, Insightful)

Andrzej Sawicki (921100) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115241)

And speaking of games, take Will Wright and his Spore project...

Re:Uh... yeah.... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115270)

Who the hell marked this as insightful?!? Creativity is not generally age related, but I'd hardly be surprised to find that in most (but not all) people it drops off significantly when they're put under too much pressure. Did you actually RTFA? OK, that's probably a stupid question. Think of the following authors whose creative output was most significant after the age of 30:

J.R.R. Tolkein
C.S. Lewis
J.K. Rowling

(In fact just think how many authors publish their first novel *after* turning 30: loads.)

And what about the film industry? Steven Spielberg? Peter Jackson? Ridley Scott? George Lucas? (Oh wait... sorry, I didn't mean that last one, but you get the picture.)

Oi! Mods! WAKE UP!!!!

Re:Uh... yeah.... (1)

orac2 (88688) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115293)

Most of them have long since lost that creative spark by the time they're thirty anyway.

This would make video game design almost unique in the annals of human creativity. I think the only field were the phenomenon of people doing their most creative work by 30 is actually well substantiated and documented is in mathematics, a very different field to game design and one much closer to programming, which you state is not subject to this effect anyway (and even in math, there are exceptions, c.f. Andrew Wiles [pbs.org] .

As the article points out, how crazy would it be if movies or books were only made by twenty somethings with less than five years experience? Speilberg never would have made E.T., let alone Schindler's List. And I'm sorry, I just have difficultly believing that the creative spark required for video games is so much more intense that that which burned in Picasso when he painted Guernica at age 56, or in Bach when he wrote his Mass in B Minor in his sixties. Heck, the guy who created Tetris was 29 when he did it, around the time his mojo should had been well on the way out in your thesis.

I think we must be careful not to engage in circular reasoning: i.e. "There are no good game designers over thirty because there are no good game designers over thirty." Before positing a mysterious intrinsic evaporation in game design skills, would it not make more sense to examine the substantive causes discussed in the article: immature work practices contributing to early burnout? If a programmer gets sick of video games, there are many other applications areas they can get stuck into and still be programming, and even programming at the bleeding edge: the fundamental nature of their job has not changed. And they still have the option to return to games, perhaps seasoned with alternate approaches. But for a game designer, well, there's not much for it but to change careers, and it's very hard to return after developing an alternative career -- even if they're still in the game industry, the fundamental nature of their job will have changed considerably.

I would suggest that if video game developers adopted more mature work practices, we would start to see great designs by thirty somethings in a few years, as the current crop of designers don't burn out, but continue innovating, and probably in very surprising ways when they bring not just a wealth of design experience, but are in a better position to integrate life and cultural experience too because they haven't been chained to their keyboards the whole time.

You claim.. (5, Funny)

romka1 (891990) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115018)

You publish an article that software designer [slashdot.org] is the one of the top 10 jobs to have :)

Stress level B is a different job (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115068)

From TFA of that "top 10" list, they say that the stress level grade for a software engineer is B. I can't imagine a software development job where the stress level would be B, but it must be a very cushy software job. Most I'd say were stress level C at best, especially game developers. Sure, technically software engineering pays a lot of money because of supply & demand, but many positions pay a lot because of how stressful it is.

Re:Stress level B is a different job (1)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115357)

Most I'd say were stress level C at best, especially game developers.

The amount of stress people feel are relative to what they are doing. Some people feel incredibly stressed when they have to submit a proposal to a project within a day. These type of people should become a highrise construnction worker for a week to get a more realistic idea of what "really stressed" is. I can think of many similar jobs that would make a project deadline seem like a walk in the park.

Re:Stress level B is a different job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115460)

From having worked in construction for a brief period let me tell you that you become used to the environment itself. Guys run around highrise construction sites like they were not bound by the law of gravity. The worst part of the job is that it is very dirty; you are constantly exposed to ear damaging noise, toxic chemicals, fumes, lung ruining dust, and the repetitiveness of it leaves you sore in the same places every day.

If you make a mistake in construction you'll get fired if you aren't union, if you are really unlucky they'll make you fix it which means physically wrestling with it instead of just editing some code.

Re:You claim.. (1)

Therilon (961887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115168)

You do realize that there is a massive difference between a game designer and a software engineer, right?

Re:You claim.. (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115207)

Right, but that article lumped them together, specifically mentioning game design as one of the "cool" perks of being a "software engineer".

Re:You claim.. (1)

deathy_epl+ccs (896747) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115289)

Funny that in the game industry, coders are rarely allowed any involvement in design at all.

Re:You claim.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115459)

Yeah, this is really funny. "'Software Engineer' is the best job in the world!", based on interviews with game developers. Then this?

The previous article should be re-titled: "'Software Engineer' is the best job in the world: for me to poop on."

Open Job Security (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115033)

If more of the source code to these games were open, developers could be contributing not only to games with short lifecycles (and often dead ends before release). They'd also be contributing to systems usable for other simulations and telecommunications. Other UIs, networks, interaction engines. Their work would contribute to the overall telecom industry development. And their own skills would continue to be relevant to the actual platforms used throughout the industry, rather than going down the one-shot drain. And of course developers would have to spend less time learning unique platforms and environments for each project.

Re:Open Job Security (0, Troll)

TrancePhreak (576593) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115183)

If more of the source code was open, less developers would be needed. As time goes on, less and less developers are needed, until finally none are needed and we end up with programmers out of jobs and large variety of the same game.

Re:Open Job Security (3, Informative)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115350)

If more of the source code was open, less developers would be needed. As time goes on, less and less developers are needed, until finally none are needed and we end up with programmers out of jobs and large variety of the same game.

That's not true.

Take John Carmack for example. He releases all his code with games after a while. Not only that... He's pretty much licensed out his engines to other companies before he does that. Yet we didn't see every single game using code from Quake or Doom and then ditching all their devs. In fact we usually see this companies hire on more.

Secondly, most companies do this already through licensing... These days either they are licensing the Doom3 engine or Unreal Engines.

That and others build from scratch depending on their needs.

However, I would say that making this open source really helps fledgling devs to figure out the "how'd they do that?" kind of questions.

Define License (1)

Black-Man (198831) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115392)

The Quake engine isn't given away for free.

Re:Open Job Security (4, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115355)

As time goes on, less and less developers are needed, until finally none are needed and we end up with programmers out of jobs...
Boo-frickin'-hoo. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, except for you personally if you're a programmer and don't want to retrain. Otherwise, you should be glad that it would allow the former programmers to move on to new and interesting things.

Your argument is a variation of the broken window fallacy [wikipedia.org] , because you're saying that making things less efficient is good because it creates work. It's incorrect because if things were more efficient there would still be plenty of work, but it would go towards making progress rather than maintaining what we already have.
[W]e end up with ... large variety[sic] of the same game.
If that's a problem, then someone would hire programmers again to make new kinds of games.

So how do they get paid? (1)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115305)

How do you earn a living in such a scheme?

Re:Open Job Security (1)

Alban (86010) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115435)

Most programmers who write game code are used to writing code within strict resource requirements (mem, CPU, etc), especially when it's for consoles (ps2, psp, etc). Depending on their role, most of them are also required to write code that can execute with very strict time limits.

They basically touch fields such as rendering, networking, AI, performance & realtime, memory management.

In the end, are you telling me that someone with even some of those skills could not find a job outside the gaming industry in less than a second? (They already fit pretty much any embedded programmer offering, and many more).

Education (3, Interesting)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115037)

The question seems retorical but I'll answer it anyway. If the people being hired are all 25 years old, the problem will remain. I have seen more and more offerings or game developer educations. Most of these are reduced computer science programs at universities, which frankly doesn't solve the problem. Recruiting earlier will require a lower education program which teaches programming. Perhaps special programs at high schools, or more likely compartmentalized education from certification schools. I'm not sure if an option like these would help developers or not, but it seems logical for it to be an option if publishers want better developers to work with.

Re:Education (4, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115194)

If the people being hired are all 25 years old...
Speaking of which, it could be that people over 30 are being forced out because the game companies are only willing to hire [exploitable] recent college grads. It's not that 30-year-old programmers want to stop making games, it's just that no game companies will give them fair compensation and healthy working conditions, and they're no longer naive enough to get screwed over!

Re:Education (2, Insightful)

Jonboy X (319895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115342)

Speaking of which, it could be that people over 30 are being forced out because the game companies are only willing to hire [exploitable] recent college grads. It's not that 30-year-old programmers want to stop making games, it's just that no game companies will give them fair compensation and healthy working conditions, and they're no longer naive enough to get screwed over!

So, put another way, few coders over 30 is stupid enough to work for a game development outfit. That's like saying McDonald's discriminates against people who want to make more than minimum wage or don't like getting burned by hot oil.

Re:Education (0, Troll)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115450)

Ahhh, to be ignorant and naive again...
If you haven't worked in the games industry, don't go around making bad analogies.

When was the last time McDonald's had "crunch time" ?

--
MMORPG gamer: "Check out this phat loot of this mob!"
Translation: There is nothing wrong with virtual dolls/dressup for boys!

Re:Education (1)

49152 (690909) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115451)

>So, put another way, few coders over 30 is stupid enough to work for a game
>development outfit. That's like saying McDonald's discriminates against people who
>want to make more than minimum wage or don't like getting burned by hot oil.

No, not at all.

It is like saying few people over 30 is stupid enough to work minimum wages getting burned by hot oil at McDonald's, which in my experience generally holds true. Most people over 30 working at McDonalds are either the boss or sad cases that for some reason cannot get any better job (no education etc).

This is not a case of discrimination, it is a fact of life. Young people are generally more naive and easier to exploit.

Re:Education (4, Insightful)

Karl Cocknozzle (514413) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115378)

It's not that 30-year-old programmers want to stop making games, it's just that no game companies will give them fair compensation and healthy working conditions, and they're no longer naive enough to get screwed over!

I think THIS might be a little closer to the explanation than any "loss of creative spark." A 30-year old developer likely has a wife/husband and is approaching the age where they either have kids or don't. That urge to reproduce has moved more than a few high-stress-job professionals to seek jobs with less stress/hours required because they decided a pile of money doesn't balance out "No family life whatsoever."

Funny how that "no family life" thing isn't in the ads/job descriptions for these positions...

Maybe this is a good thing in the long run (5, Interesting)

goldcd (587052) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115040)

I can honestly say I don't want what 99% of these people make in their 5 years at the grindstone in full time game development.
Now these people must have got into it initially for the love of games - and even if they jack it all in and get a 'real' job, I assume they'll still like games.
We're going to end up with a huge glut of people with real jobs (i.e. can do whatever they want) moonlighting in the evenings making quality mods, small games for online distribution etc etc.
Much more what I want to buy anyway and should be a nice bit of fresh air

Re:Maybe this is a good thing in the long run (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115368)

"real jobs (i.e. can do whatever they want) moonlighting in the evenings making quality mods, small games for online distribution etc etc."

Just based on my personal experience I don't see how anyone who holds down a "real" job and a family is going to have the time or energy to sit around writing mods or marketable games.

too easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115049)

How can an industry truly grow, and an art form evolve, if everyone is gone by the time they hit 30?

Oh, this is way too easy. The answer is by making sequels!

Re:too easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115106)

But they're already doing that! I wonder which game takes the "most sequels" crown? I think it'd have to be Final Fantasy, since I seem to recall they're up to their 12th game in that series. Megaman definitely gets a mention - I know they're up to eight, and maybe as many as 10.

Then, of course, there are the sports games. I'm not entirely sure I'd call them full sequels, though, since the basic game they simulate doesn't change. Some seem more like expansion packs than true sequels. Still, some of those have to be coming close to 10 games.

But that still leaves Final Fantasy as Sequel King, with 12 games in the series.

Re:too easy (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115226)

Poor Mystic Quest :(

It's like that wierd uncle no one talks to at family get-togethers.

Re:too easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115336)

Final Fantasy is really more of a genere than a series. Each game is a standalone story, and the plots never connect. I think it is more valid to judge sequels by their crappyness. If we do that, the many many Madden NFL games take the crown with no competition.

gotta stay with the times! (1)

moochfish (822730) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115067)

Suckers! Obviously, they haven't heard the big news [slashdot.org] !

Escapist (-1, Troll)

slashrogue (775436) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115078)

So submitting an article from the Escapist is an auto-include these days? There've been what, three articles pointing at this week's issue so far. Perhaps I should go ahead and submit the rest.

developer stress (5, Interesting)

xamomike (831092) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115079)

This doesn't just apply to game developers, but most software developers as well. It's a risky business, and for most innovation developers are forced to put their career, money/life savings on the line whenever an innovative product is developed. How can we be innovative when we can't pay our mortage payments?

There aren't enough investors out there to put money on risky software development projects, so we are often forced to take big risks ourselves when it comes to ideas we are passionate about. And frankly, people with lots of money often don't understand what we're doing.

Re:developer stress (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115145)

How can we be innovative when we can't pay our mortage payments?
Duh, don't buy a house!

Re:developer stress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115290)

A lot of houses are cheaper then many of the good apartments around Michigan.
(I was paying $900/month for a 2 bedroom apartment, now I'm paying $700/month for a brand new house.)

Make your own company (2, Interesting)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115081)

Just like the Atari devs split and founded Activision... I think that a small company is the best for game development.

Re:Make your own GPL Project (1)

Anonymous Monkey (795756) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115224)

Or prehaps a move to GPL games. More game play, more story, and less blingey graphics. How many of us would help with code or art if some one came up with a good idea?

Re:Make your own GPL Project (5, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115464)

How many of us would help with code or art if some one came up with a good idea?
Apparently not that many, because there are hundreds or thousands of GPL game projects on SourceForge, and most of them are dead (or never really got started in the first place) because there weren't enough people to make them. Surely some of them had to be good ideas!

I've been thinking about this issue lately, and I'm stuck with a conundrum: Why are people so interested in modding commercial games, when they could use a Free game engine instead and have their work more widely available?

There are a couple of possible explanations for this:

  • The commercial engines are more technologically advanced and come with better tools
  • The commercial games provide a pre-made style and story universe, and it's easier to create a new story within that framework than making an entirely original one
  • Modders start out as players; they are only interested in the game they're familiar with

However, none of these reasons seems to provide a complete explanation for why there isn't even a single example of an extremely popular GPL game. I mean, there's no reason whatsoever that the next Counterstrike couldn't be built on Cube or the GPL'd Quake 2 source... so why isn't anyone doing it?

Re:Make your own company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115306)

Which begs the question, Can you even have a small company in the 'Modern' game industry.

About all everyone (seems to) want is higher resolution prettier graphics. If you look at it from a console generational perspective you require 4x the ammount of content every new generation; This means that the upcomming generation will require 16 times as many content developers as the N64 or Playstation did. If you require 200 people to make a game how can you be a small company?

Re:Make your own company (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115319)

Which begs the question, Can you even have a small company in the 'Modern' game industry.

Ubisoft :)

Re:Make your own company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115338)

Making your own game development company seems like a good idea at first, but there are pitfalls.

If you want to make a commercial-quality game, you have to have more than programmers. You team will need to include artists, musicians, designers, voice-actors, and so forth (not to mention programmers that specialize in AI, some 3d graphics technology, and perhaps other specializations as well).

So suppose you have a small team of ten people with this varied list of talents. Your commercial-quality game will have to have a lot of content as well, so you are looking at 1 to 2 years of full time development. Depending on the scale of your game, it may go even longer than that.

So let's say you pay everyone 30k per year. Thats over half a million dollars in salary alone. Add benefits, if you offer any, and also equipment costs, and you will need more than a million dollars of cash upfront to get this thing made.

Where do you get that money? Borrow it from one of the major game publishers? That is an avenue that many have gone...though the publisher will put you on a very tight delivery schedule and give you a very tiny royalty after the game is released. Case in point: the game Thief generated enough money to make a sequel, but the independent company that actually wrote it went belly up after its release...a different team made the sequel.

Anyway, assuming that you pay for all this out of your own pocket (cause, you know, you have a million sitting around for this sort of thing), how will you market it? The only way to be sure that you can get a good ROI is to have the game in a box, on a shelf, at Best Buy (the dot gones taught us that selling a game from a web site just doesn't generate enough in sales). Guess what? Best Buy doesn't just gave shelf space to anyone who asks. You have to have even more funds upfront for publication, and you also have to have some deep industry connections to pull it off.

Anyway, this is too depressing, so I will stop typing it up. But good luck to you.

Sad but true... (5, Insightful)

joeygb (530333) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115097)

I grew up wanting to be a game developer. I spent a lot of my free time as a kid in front of a computer writing code, designing my own games. But as I get older and am actually out in the workforce the thought of working 80 hour weeks making a salary on the lower range of what programmers in general make has turned me away from the industry. The next step, once the majority of CS majors have been scared away from game programming, is the farm the work out to programming "sweat shops" in other countries to make rehashes of the same games that have been coming out for years. Unless there are some major changes in the game industry the only real innovations are going to end up coming from indie game developers who work some other job to make a living and develop games in their spare time.

I partially agree with you (1)

goldcd (587052) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115184)

I think games need to be drien by a vision and that vision has to come from a small group of people (otherwise you get a focus-group deciding what minor variations should be included in EA SPORT XX).
As technology marches into the future, the number of people required to make a game has increased - there's simply more work to be done. This doesn't mean the proportion of people required to make creative input has increased in line with the overall rise in the team size (nor should it).

Re:Sad but true... (1)

Saige (53303) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115307)

I was the same way. I wanted to be a game developer for so long. At graduation, I was upset that I only got contacted by Maxis AFTER I had already accepted a job. Since then, though, I've realized that the job at Maxis would have been high-hours and low-pay in a location that would have been way too expensive to live in. And that the game industry works people way too hard in general - just as the article mentions. So I had given up ever being involved in the gaming industry.

But you should never really give up - just get pickier. I've now scored a job with a great company that doesn't work people to death, and I get to be involved in gaming - just on the console side. Not what I would have ever expected, but I may well now be working in my dream job.

Re:Sad but true... (1)

sjwest (948274) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115372)

There is no innovation in games it seems - I'm sure once you have written an american football procedure for say kickball(),foulplayer() etc apart from scan in images from the next batch of stars and type 2008 instead of 2007 on the package is that really programming ?

Only one firm can make a american football game if I remember (without getting sued) So why should they bother to innovate ? when then can scan in some player stats, add new players and watch the punters role in.

Bring back the old model (2, Interesting)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115102)

Like the old, OLD Activision method of a single developer designing a game and actually getting credited on the product packaging. When someone figures out how to implement that design model again, you'll have the next craze of video games.

Re:Bring back the old model (1)

freeb (614578) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115165)

There is a new model - XBOX (360) Live...with the new programming APIs coming out (XNA) there will absolutely be a tie-in to a new marketplace (full pun intended).

What you are talking about will absolutely happen in the near future.

flash (1)

gatzke (2977) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115246)

There are tons of great flash games coming out.

check addictinggames.com or the games section on collegehumor.com

2D games can still be lots of fun and they don't require teams of musicians, artwork, modelers, or motion capture to produce.

3D may get there with the open engines that are around, but it still takes a huge team to get a 3D FPS mod out the door. At least you can contribute your own skin, but to create your own mod would be a real bitch.

I would love to see more cool stuff done that is creative but still uses neat 3D power, like tetris on acid or pacman but new concept. The FPS and 3D animorphic gets lame, the top downs strategy games are nice but eventually lame.

There is a game construction software package out there geared for kids, I have not tried it out. I think it is mostly 2d. As the tools improve, maybe 3D stuff will be easier.

sturgeons law and dedication (3, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115113)

It appears there's a correlation between the "famous names in game development" and the "career-minded senior developers in game development." Correlation isn't causation, but which end is wagging which? Is it because they're a rare breed to stick around so long, or because they're a rare breed who have excellent gaming ideas? Maybe they're just rare because of the career stress. The likelihood of making a name for oneself in the industry is pretty slim. The industry is incestuous and churn after November (after Retail Christmas) is a big problem. If you have to start your career over every year or two, who wants to keep up that grind forever? But maybe it's just a matter of a group of people who like instant gratification in their games, who also want instant gratification in their career path, and they usually don't find it. Ninety percent of everything is crap, and that goes for the workforce in any industry too. There may only be room for a few bright spots to float to the top, while the rest continue to wallow below.

Sorry for lack of formatting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115160)

Sorry for the wrong formatting choice on that.

Re:sturgeons law and dedication (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115449)

The 'famous names' in games are sort of like 'famous researchers' Most of them did something great one time, and now they have a whole team of people producing stuff that they stamp their name on (research equivallent: graduate students). The people that are really innovating, or really creating the fun stuff that goes into great games are usually just hidden away in the credits. Having one super hit can carry you the rest of your career.

Oh - and whilst this thread's a bit empty still (0, Offtopic)

goldcd (587052) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115120)

Could I just ask if anybody likes that god-awful escapist web site?
I don't mean the content, I mean the design - I'm convinced they'd just had an FTP of PDFs if they were allowed.
Aesthetics are good - but the damn 'click teeny next button for the next sentence with a huuge great random bit of clipart' is just so 'should have gone bankrupt in 2000'

Re:Oh - and whilst this thread's a bit empty still (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115249)

Absolutely not! Anyone who creates a website that has to be scrolled sideways should be fired immediately.

(The only exception is if it has an extremely large image, and even then he probably ought to scale down the image by using the width and height attributes on the img tag.)

creative management (4, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115121)

Suppose I hire the kind of people who are creative enough to create a good game, and then I hire people that are able to code that creativity into a functioning product. Isn't this a much better model than hiring 50 super-coders to bust out YAJMF? (Yet Another John Madden Football) Game development is expensive to get right, but if you have a team that can make lots of good and different games, games good enough to develop franchises from (i.e. Zelda and Mario), then you will win. If you take one painfully stale idea and re-release it over and over, it will cost you more each time in order to generate the same sales, because PEOPLE GET BORED. It should be real obvious how to manage creativity, but apparently few want to take charge and do it. There's such a ready supply of young kids looking to "code games" that they can be duped into thinking that "some company" is cool when in fact it's a slave ship. Any gaming company that leverages creativity over slave hours and slave pay will be the champion in the long run, bar none.

So this is why? (2, Funny)

umedia (964947) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115130)

And here I thought cloning the same old games year after year was the problem... my bad. Well that and the fact Duke Forever isn't done yet...

Should be the opposite, no? (0)

Pendersempai (625351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115134)

Seems to me that having fast turnover should increase the amount of innovation, if only because you have so many fresh minds looking at every problem.

Re:Should be the opposite, no? (2, Insightful)

Wesley Everest (446824) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115236)

Actually, fast turnover means less innovation. All the fresh kids just out of school making the same mistakes as their predecessors. Then they burn out before they learn from the mistakes and come up with better ways of doing things.

I know how (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115140)

How can an industry truly grow, and an art form evolve, if everyone is gone by the time they hit 30?

Outsourcing. They'll hire people who don't think complaining is a job skill.

Seriously, it's a huge industry with tons of money. I bet someone figures out the answer, makes great games, and gets a lot of that money. I don't think they need Slashdot's help (or whatever it is Slashdot apparently thinks it has to offer).

Terrible article (1, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115157)

That Escapist article is all fluff. It's even worse than Tired. This is just a clueless blogger with a good layout program.

Useful article on what's wrong with game development appear in Game Developer regularly, in the "postmortem" section. Those are worth reading. This is not.

The early burnout problem is a major issue at Electronic Arts. But they're not even in compliance with California labor law, and there's a class action on their unlawful nonpayment of overtime. [eaovertimecase.com] That one (for artists) has been settled, with EA paying $15 million, and two other cases are pending. That's real news. This article isn't.

Re:Terrible article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115300)

Is it worth pointing out that the author is the executive director of the International Game Developers Association, not a "clueless blogger"?

When will games evolve as art? (1)

15973 (861573) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115166)

It'll happen when the media starts focusing the mindless masses towards gameplay, not the latest and greatest graphics. Then developers could focus on making compelling games, instead of just trying to dazzle with the eye candy. Ever wonder why Tetris is still fun to play, while your copies of Doom3 are sitting on the shelf? That's why.

Re:When will games evolve as art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115248)

Ever wonder why Tetris is still fun to play

Sorry, but Tetris is boring as fuck to me. I can't play it without quitting due to bored after a minute or two of gameplay. There are other similar games which are still fun to me, though, like Capcom's Puzzle Fighter or Bust-a-Move 2, but only when playing two-player.

same old stuff... (3, Insightful)

NetMunkee (905279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115167)

This is so two years ago. More and more game companies are adopting sane schedules and better production schedules. There is still a ways to go of course, but it's getting better by leaps and bounds. My last project I only crunched a combined 2 months. Much better than the 14 months of crunch I did two projects ago. The REAL problem with innovation in "big" titles is that the development teams are getting too large. On a 60 person team only a select few actually get to give design input on what the game is. There just isn't enough time to get input from every team member that wants to share their ideas. You can't afford to prototype enough to get to everyone's ideas, so to be fair no one's ideas are prototyped. Back when a game could be made with 10-20 people, every one could go crazy with ideas and everyone could contribute. That just isn't possible now. Except of course with the small teams making the flash games and things like that.

More competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115202)

Perhaps these "burned out" developers/designers can start up new game companies and change the business for the better. After all, people who've worked in the business knows what the current companies did wrong. Hopefully these new companies goes back to the roots of the 70s and 80s, were the developers/designers got time to test out new territories instead of just hearing "deadline, deadline, $$$, $$$".

Suits vs T-shirts (1)

deanj (519759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115212)

A lot of this has to do with the suits being in control of the company and driving their talent into the ground. Whether that's because of poor planning on their part or artifical deadlines, it doesn't matter.

I'm not saying the t-shirts would do any better, but at least the t-shirt folks understand what the heck the development team is actually doing. The suits usually just see t-shirts as interchangable warm bodies.

Hahaha! I was right! (4, Interesting)

MagikSlinger (259969) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115220)

As my profile states, I'm a reformed game programmer. I've written a couple of bitter posts on Slashdot about working in the game industry. I'm better now. :-)

But the stress caused by poor quality architecture and code cannot be understated. Coders begin to hate the designers and artists after awhile and that, as you can guess, really causes problems. If the designer wants that really cool scene or feature or art, but the coder is stressed out the kazoo with debugging the last 3 new features and hasn't seen his new born child awake since it was born, you can imagine how he would react to the new feature.

The solution is a self-learning development process. A.k.a., CMM [wikipedia.org] . I met some game developers who've only worked in Game Companies who sneer at that kind of talk, but the more seasoned veterans (working 10+ years) actually liked the idea. When you reduce the stress on the developers, and improve productivity, they can spend time making stable code that can be used to build cool, new features on it.

More importantly, it will rebuild the relationship between coder and artists, designers. That is the single most important relationship in the game process, IMHO.

Plebian Game Design (1)

totalbasscase (907682) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115237)

Why do all the ideas - 'fun' bits, as TFA calls them - have to come from overworked, stressed developers? A company dedicated to listening to its constituency of customers is far better equipped to put out a good game, because the people who will be purchasing the software can contribute the ideas they want to see implemented.

Back in February I stumbled on Galactic Civilizations 2, then in beta. I pre-ordered after reading the website, and how they'd been in a beta for a year just implementing features people suggested on the forums. Even 2 months after release, the game is receiving more attention patch-wise from the developers than any other software I've ever bought, save for Windows itself. And these aren't just bug fixes we're getting for our $40 - we're getting UI tweaks, new features, and improvements on already stellar AI.

And the best part is that the game was mostly self-financed, through pre-orders and online distribution. Sales have been stellar, the game was sold out for its first production run - mostly from word of mouth - and no major publisher was ever involved.

GalCiv2 [galciv2.com] should be a wake-up call to developers - to make a good game, ask the gamers what they want.

Evolve? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115247)

It's precisely this type of stress that causes things to evolve. How can the game industry HELP but evolve? As always, the ones that survive will be the ones most adapted to the conditions.

Prescription (3, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115256)

OK what have we got here? Overworked developer. Inadequate tools. Unreasonable deadlines. Exponentially increasing content. Parallelisation problems. Increased competition. Increased Expectation. Aaaannnd... C++....hmmmmm.

OK. Looks like a classic case of square peg in round hole syndrome. Take two courses in Lisp and read up on a fractal generation algorithims.

And for Christ's sake kid, lay off the coffee.

I blame consoles among other things... (2, Interesting)

crossmr (957846) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115258)

Sure its going to sound like console bashing, but look at the market. When you make a product more accesible it becomes very tempting to try and maximize that even further. As businesses grow and the market evolves, publishers are under greater pressure (mostly greed) to abuse that market. The easiest way is to ignore innovation, create broader appeal to already existing franchises (often through dumbing down) and pump it out and make it available for anything that moves. As an example on what's being done to something like The Sims. You can trash it all you want, but its a prime example of a very popular franchise. Initially they announced 7 EPs. Its a lot, but the market is there. Then they announced they'd start putting it on anything that could play it. Consoles, phones, handhelds, etc. Get a smart watch, Maxis will port it.
Now they haven't saturated things enough, they're releasing mini-eps in between EPs. Why? Because EA has reportedly been sucking out, except for The Sims franchise, its their cash cow. The game isn't going to innovate.

You can see it in the underlying structure of the game. People who have taken apart the code and looked at it call it disgusting, the little things are missing. Problems that have existed since the original game, but instead of fixing those to produce quality, they're going to pump out 3 more platforms and another 2 expansion packs. If EA could market a gaming device who' sole purpose was to play The Sims, they would.

That market is changed, and if you want quality, I really think you have to stick with small developers who are in it for the love of the game.

Wow, I'm SHOCKED!!! (2, Insightful)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115263)

You mean game developmers are humans? That by the time they are 30 wise up and aren't willing to slave away 12 hours a day for someone else?

Wow.

And you mean companies get rid of people once they aren't willing to work 12 hours a day because they have a life and don't like being treated like slaves anymore?

Amazing, really, it is.

Welcome to reality for the rest of the world. At least here in America you get to wise up and have a life at 30. 90% of the world will slave away until they drop dead.

Why not unionize? (1)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115264)

Why not unionize, like the movie professionals in Hollywood did?

Re:Why not unionize? (2, Insightful)

Chilltowner (647305) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115397)

I agree. When people in any industry in the past have run up against shitty working conditions, unreasonable management, and crappy pay (for the hours they put in), they've unionized. It's an entirely reasonable thing to do, especially considering how close to Hollywood games are getting and how many trade unions are in effect in the film industry.

And don't start with the "Oh, developers are too independent, too maverick, too high tech to be unionized." That's the exact same way you could've described auto workers 70 years ago, and they formed the UAW. Say what you will about it lately, the UAW did a LOT to improve conditions and pay for the "high-tech" workers of their time.

It's a no-brainer (5, Insightful)

moochfish (822730) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115272)

I don't understand people who go after this career because they "love games." It always concerned me when someone told me they want to become a programmer because they like games. HELLO! Everybody loves games! You're joining the profession for all the wrong reasons! Sometimes I'd ask the person if they've ever even programmed. Answer? "Nope!" I admire the willingness to fight for a dream, but I frown on the lack of research before committing a lifetime to it. Why programmer instead of another facet of game production? Oh, the money, you say... Notice how programming itself is not mentioned as an interest in any way here? Yes, it concerns me too.

The games people love are nothing like the process of coding them. Anything that is remotely fun and exciting in programming has nothing to do with what makes Madden fun and exciting. The average consumer can love Final Fantasy -- no, I'd even say there are many, many hardcore fans. But the vast majority of those that love that franchise are not meant to ever, ever become game developers. It's apples and oranges.

Playing games is exactly that -- PLAYING. But coding a game is no child's play. It's work -- and hard, hard work. If producing a graphical manifestation is the only joy you see in coding, I'd seriously reconsider the profession. There are other ways to contribute to creating a game without being the code monkey. There's marketing, story writing, graphics, concept designing, testing, and even managing.

If those don't appeal to you any more than coding does, then why choose coding? What? For money? That's a whole different can of worms that I'm sure you can already see is a repeat of what I just finished saying.

In my humblest opinion, programming is fun on its own, and it really doesn't matter what it is you're coding so long as it is challenging and stimulating. Sure, coding games can fit that, but to start on this path without actually loving the path itself seems risky at best and a terrible, life-long mistake at worst. In short, don't choose a path that makes you walk through shit and garbage. That path just so happens to be the rest of your life. You better damn well choose a route you'll enjoy every minute of.

Stress? (3, Insightful)

Mad Ogre (564694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115278)

I thought it was a lack of imagination that was killing the game industry.

I will interview for a game developer job tomorrow (1)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115285)

I'm of for the day for an interview for a game developer position tomorrow. Here's what they had in my application allready: Professional Enviroment, competent colleagues, room for creative initiative, professional workflow and solid & fair payment. Tomorrow I'm going to add 'no standard overtime' to that list. 2 Pro's with a proper workflow pull more in 8 hour days than 6 people with 12 hour days. That's the simple truth. I'm not subventioning stupid management with my mental and physical health.

They've gotten to me by a headhunter bureau and wanted an interview right away, so they must be desperate. But I'm not gonna be a fireextinguisher for an overdue project (my spider sense is tingling that way somehow) in some messy enviroment that has no version control, no OOAD and no designers and coders working together and a no boss that give enough rope and is open for ideas.

I'd rather work as a barista and continue developing my own game in my spare time than being the assmonkey for some idiots with an overdrawn budget that were to stupid to do it right in the first place. And probably wouldn't have listend to my advice because of me having no degree in CS or something. ...

Then again, maybe they are the cool shop I hope they are (the dev on Linux exclusively - can't be that bad) and I get to meet some very neat team tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed that all goes well - one way or the other.

The Escapist Nerdzine (1)

graxthal (952536) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115288)

The Escapist is at least decent for seeing what folks like Warren Spector have on their minds. The articles (especially the EVE Online coverage) sometimes contain stories that veteran gamers agree are implausible. They get written because something sort of cool actually happened in an MMOG, but then the writer's fantasy takes over and the rest is a sci-fi story. This is a bit harsh, but some of their articles do deserve this criticism. As for their layout... I must agree with the poster above who called it trashy. I like to use ctrl-mousewheel a lot to increase text size. Unfortunately, Escapist Mag's presentation is the type that gets completely destroyed by the slightest text-increase. Still, the magazine is developing into a bit of a MMOG meme nexus, and while it does some annoying things (layout, exaggeration, etc.), it does have its finger approximately on the thoughtful-MMO-player-group pulse.

how about nintendo devs? (4, Interesting)

Frag-A-Muffin (5490) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115320)

I wonder if the sentiment is true on the other side of the earth? Do the Japanese devs feel this way too? From what I've read, Nintendo devs are a very proud bunch and lots of them have been doing it for a long time. I don't know for certain, but I wonder if they're under the same time pressures as, say, EA? We've all read stories about EA's marketing dates dictating everything. Is that true for Nintendo? If it is true, I certainly wouldn't have noticed, cuz all their games seem so polished. SSBM? Wind Waker? All top notch (in terms of quality). Can't say the same for EA. I actually bought the first Sims game for gamecube way back ... 10min into laying out my house, it froze on me. First time I had a game crash/freeze on me (on a console). I haven't bought an EA game since.

Anyways, I'm rambling. Just wondering if the japanese devs feel the same? Anyone have any insight into this?

cliche of the decade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115321)

not just INNOVATION but Video Game Innovation!!

you'd be a fool to read into this tripe.

Regulation is to blame. (-1, Flamebait)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115341)

Today's games are really really great, but like with everything else they get old unless allowed to push the envelope of what is socially acceptable. I was playing my favorite (Call of Duty) last evening, and thinking about how cool it would be to see limbs flying off the bad guys when I toss a grenade at them, instead of them just doing that nice backflip they do. Why dont the dead guys have their guts spilling out on beach at Point Du Hoc? Why no scenes of allies freeing Jewish prisoners from gas chambers? Where is the abuse and rape and torture of POWs at the Bataan death march? I know, it might be sick, but you bastards would buy it were it there, because it is art immitating life.

You wont see games like this, because the government would never allow it. Moms would be marching like illegal aliens demanding these games be toned down to a nice, pleasant peek at reality.

Let developers model what really went on throughout history or model society without hiding its rougher edges, and you will see no shortage of innovation.

As an independent game developer... (4, Interesting)

pestilence669 (823950) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115349)

This is a common problem that plagues every booming industry... especially advertising. Your bean counters arrive, and apply their "insight" and "wisdom" to running the business and increasing productivity. The end result is deadlines, avoidance of solutions that are too difficult to schedule (or understand), reuse of code and concepts that should be trashed... in all: a bad work environment. Game developers, like myself, strive for the cutting edge. The idea of mandated shortcuts pisses us off.

Game development is a creative art. You can't rush or schedule that kind of a process. No project management book or body of knowledge can overcome this. As long as game publishers drive for more efficiency and output, they will burn out their staff. Game development is a business that needs a bit of fat (free time). You need more freedom to develop and burn code to test new concepts. Investing in throw-away code is almost always a business "no no."

Business folks expect that all problems in computer gaming have known solutions. This idea is false. There's a ton of R&D for just about every algorithm. There's not necessarily a "one size fits all" solution to any given problem. And even a solid algorithm can often be implemented in over a dozen different ways.

I've worked for a couple of places that tried to run game development like regular software engineering projects. They did not succeed. Sometimes, entire industries need to ditch the MBAs and embrace what got them to where they are in the first place. Operating efficiency is only a good thing, so long as it doesn't negatively impact your staff, quality, and sales.

Building games is completely different that any other kind of software development. It needs to managed that way... special needs in mind.

Not art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15115380)

How can an industry truly grow, and an art form evolve, if everyone is gone by the time they hit 30?

First, games are not an "art form", except in a very general sense. Games are games. Board and card games have been around for thousands of years, and no one's ever come up with the boardgame or card game equivalent of the works of Matisse or Beethoven.

Second, even if games were an art form, the youthfulness of the developers would hardly be any kind of a hindrance. There is plenty of good pop music written and performed by people under the age of 30.

Video games don't need to be art, and they don't need to "evolve", the rules of basketball haven't changed much over the last century or so, and people still enjoy watching and playing basketball. Video games need to be fun. That means engaging gameplay, decent graphics, and having most bugs and glitches cleaned out. World Of Warcraft and the Grand Theft Auto series are fine examples of game crafting at its best.

One possible explanation... (1)

NewmanBlur (923584) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115393)

Is he talking about only American game developers? Or developers from all of the world?

One possible explanation is that something like 50% of the games in the world are produced in Japan, where 10-12+ hour days are pretty typical at EVERY company, and game companies are no exception. A lot of the stuff the Japanese produce is crap that never makes it out of the home market, but there are definitely huge, globally competitive companies like Konami, Capcom, Square, Namco, etc. Since this is what the American companies have to compete with, it's not really surprising that game developers are overworked.

Always will be creativity! (1)

Mantrid (250133) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115444)

Check out Mount and Blade, it's a fun little game even though it's lacking the polish of a AAA title. It was made (as I understand it) by a couple from Turkey. They've sold something like 80K copies at $10 or so a piece...not bad especially for that area of the world! A good game, plus word of mouth, and internet distribution is a good formula for having many great years of PC gaming to come!

Why not look to Hollywood? (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115468)

Now that game budgets are approaching the budgets and crew sizes of smaller Hollywood productions, why not look to movie studios for the organizing methodology for bringing in a multi-million dollar production requiring immense creative input on-time and on-budget? The budget-busting fiascos we hear about aren't common, they're the product of big stars/directors/producers with too little studio control. The more common case is a fairly rigorous process that moves through well-defined stages with constant oversight, without ever becoming what we call a death march; the end result is a solid financial vehicle that makes money for the investors and also produces creative content that can be judged on how it works as a piece of art.

It's also a system that rewards talent and money-making ability with money.

You want to make a multi-million dollar game? Hire a movie executive to run the process rather than a 30 year old EA graduate who thinks 90 hour weeks are normal.

No new games in the last 10 years (1)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115482)

Since I have not seen anything new in the gaming world in 10 years or more, it's no wonder. All games are the same old RPG, FPS, or racing. No real innovation has existed. Just different looks, different quality. I'ts no wonder that the whole game industry is burning out.

More coders need to be involved with business (5, Insightful)

xtal (49134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115483)

You're being exploited because you let yourselves be. That's the harsh truth.

If you want a life, you need to control the business aspect where money is generated. Otherwise the machine is going to use you up and spit you out, if there's one thing conclomerates like EA have shown, is you can beat programmers stupid and (new) ones keep coming back, begging for more.

Get involved with the business, own the IP, sit on equal footing.

Yes, business sucks sometimes. Coding sucks sometimes too. If you're able to distingush people with the clue from those without, use that to outbid people. Yes, there's big budgets involved - but there's also people with big pockets who will fund things that look like they'll make money.

Entrepreneurs: See the above? Find some really good programmers and PARTNER with them.

Otherwise? Well.. I'm sure there's a fresh crop of programmers to burn out next year.
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